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NC study maps out shift to electric cars, appliances, factories

Cooper's report says sales of new home appliances like furnaces, stoves and water heaters should eventually be all electric.
David Boraks
Cooper's report says sales of new home appliances like furnaces, stoves and water heaters should eventually be all electric.

North Carolina will need more electric vehicles on the road, cleaner energy sources and a faster shift away from fossil fuels in all parts of the economy to meet its climate goals, according to a new report from Gov. Roy Cooper's office.

Cooper's office produced the "Deep Decarbonization Pathways Analysis" with the help of consultants and stakeholders. The report details how to eliminate carbon emissions statewide by 2050. It's a complex, 101-page document that offers multiple scenarios for meeting that goal.

The analysis calls for the fastest changes in the two largest sources of heat-trapping greenhouse gases — transportation and energy. But it also takes a deeper look at other sectors that must make the transition.

Emissions from power plants are covered separately, in the December "carbon plan" order from the North Carolina Utilities Commission. It endorses Duke Energy's plans for closing coal plants and adding gas plants, renewable energy, battery storage and eventually new nuclear plants.

Thursday's report highlights how other sectors of the economy will be harder, requiring many individual decisions. Take transportation:

Under one scenario, zero-emission vehicles would need to account for 100% of all new sales by 2035 — up from 5% now.

The report also says new home appliances like furnaces, stoves and water heaters should be all electric starting by 2030. And industrial plants would need to start phasing out natural gas, diesel, coal and other fuels.

Cooper said the state's fight against climate change can also create jobs and have other economic benefits.

“In North Carolina, fighting climate change and strengthening our economy goes hand in hand,” Cooper said in a statement. “In the past year, we’ve celebrated some of the largest economic development announcements in state history from companies that focus on clean energy and share our environmental priorities. This analysis will help us achieve pollution reduction while highlighting new market opportunities to ensure North Carolina remains on the forefront of the clean energy transition.”

Will Scott, director of Southeast Climate and Energy for the Environmental Defense Fund, said the analysis gives North Carolina a more detailed plan for meeting the goals that Cooper first set in Executive Order 80 in 2018.

"I think this is more of a long-term roadmap that shows us that we need to begin thinking about some of these further out, perhaps slightly more difficult to decarbonize sectors, even as we're, setting hard targets that we need to hit in the short term for the priority areas like the electric sector and transportation," Scott said.


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David Boraks previously covered climate change and the environment for WFAE. See more at www.wfae.org/climate-news. He also has covered housing and homelessness, energy and the environment, transportation and business.